Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fight neuroblastoma with your computer

Using your computer to fight neuroblastoma in it's spare time - of all of the people in the world, I should have thought of that. I didn't! But thankfully someone else was using their brain while I was sitting down on the job.

You may remember that last year I traveled to Chiba, Japan for the 2008 Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Convention. It is a biennial event where researchers from all over the world present their neuroblastoma research. The committee chairman for this latest event was Dr. Akira Nakagawara, a well known neuroblastoma researcher throughout the world and the principal investigator at the Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute. He has been a part of several important discoveries in the neuroblastoma world, most notably the discovery of TrkB (a protein expressed on aggressive neuroblastomas.)

Dr. Nakagawara has teamed up with IBM and their World Community Grid to form the the new Help Fight Childhood Cancer project which uses the idle computational power from volunteers' computers to identify which of the three million potential drug candidates prohibit growth of three proteins (TrkB, ALK, SCxx) believed to be key in the progression of neuroblastoma. It would take approximately 100 years using their own computing resources to make progress, but with access to the World Community Grid (one of the world's largest virtual supercomputers), they estimate to complete this project in 2 years, and begin laboratory trials.

We have the potential to find a drug treatment for neuroblastoma, and it's the volunteers who sign up to allow their computers to be used coupled with innovative grid technology that can make the difference. Signing up with World Community Grid is an easy and free way to join almost a million devices around the world being used to help researchers join the fight against cancer.

To become of member of World Community Grid and donate unused computer time, individuals register on www.worldcommunitygrid.org and install a free, small, secure software program onto their computers. When computers are idle, data is requested from World Community Grid's server. These computers then perform the computations, and send the results back to the server, prompting it for a new piece of work. A screen saver will tell individuals when their computers are being used.

Please sign up and help make a difference in your computer's spare time.

It is spare purpose.

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